14 June 2012

Impunity and Continuity

Legal proceedings that deal with corruption and influence peddling don’t have much staying power in Brazil

This week, the former Ministry of Sport Orlando Silva was fortunate enough to have been out of the national and international spotlight for long enough that the President’s Ethics Commission decide to end the investigation into his involvement with a mutli-million dollar corruption scheme. Not having been close to the proceedings, it is impossible to say whether or not there really was a lack of evidence to proceed or if the ethics commission was late for lunch or if this was another example of the press acting as a political bludgeon. Either way, there is no information available on the commission’s website as to the investigation, just some small news pieces saying the Silva is clean. I am not suggesting that the Ethics Commission doesn’t do a fine job of rooting out corruption, just that there appears to be a pattern in Brazil of people getting involved in corruption scandals, losing their jobs, and then being cleared of any wrongdoing. Then, to maintain the status quo, another person just like them, or at least from the same party (in this case the Brazilian Communist Party, PCdoB), is put into power to continue with the same policies.

Take the case of our favorite gout-ridden sycophant, Ricardo Texeira. One year ago, he was riding high in the inner sanctum of FIFA even though he bet on the wrong horse in FIFA’s farcical elections. He had thoroughly dominated Brazilian football for nearly two decades, having ridden to power on the strength of a good marriage. However, he and the ex-father in law had been involved in some shady dealings with FIFA’s now defunct marketing arm and the FIFA president Blatter threatened to divulge documents exposing their (and likely his) involvement. To avoid the gallows before shuffling off the mortal coil, J. Marie Havelange resigned from his honorary post at the IOC and Texeira was forced out of FIFA and the CBF. Where is he now? Living the Latin American millionaire exile life in Florida. Where are the legal proceedings?  None. What has happened with the CBF? Tricky Ricky’s loyalists were stuck into power with the full and obsequious approval of the feudal overlords that control the clubs. What happened with his position on the executive committee at FIFA? Another fat-fingered patsy was put in his place to keep the ball rolling for the “good of the game.” The media naturalizes this process, letting the air out of what should be an expanding balloon of collective, righteous indignation. In the meantime we can be sure that Texeira and the CBF and FIFA are as clean as Byron Moreno’s whistle.

The lesson here is that one can engage in corrupt practices, or be associated closely enough with shady dealings to arouse the sleepy dogs of justice, lose position and power, but keep the money and rest comfortably knowing that the dogs will be thrown some other bones to chew on. Corruption and impunity and forgetting are the pistons that drive the World Cup forward and as long as we keep lubricating the machine with public money and collective passivity, nothing will save us from hurtling over the cliff while 1% of the passengers smugly don their golden parachutes. 

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